University of Michigan Researchers Use Capillary Action to Create Beautiful Shapes Out of Carbon Nanotubes

From Nanowerk News:

Twisting spires, concentric rings, and gracefully bending petals are a few of the new three-dimensional shapes that University of Michigan engineers can make from carbon nanotubes using a new manufacturing process.

The process is called “capillary forming,” and it takes advantage of capillary action, the phenomenon at work when liquids seem to defy gravity and travel up a drinking straw of their own accord.

The new miniature shapes, which are difficult if not impossible to build using any material, have the potential to harness the exceptional mechanical, thermal, electrical, and chemical properties of carbon nanotubes in a scalable fashion, said A. John Hart, an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and in the School of Art & Design.

They could lead to probes that can interface with individual cells and tissues, novel microfluidic devices, and new materials with a custom patchwork of surface textures and properties.

A paper on the research is published in the October edition of Advanced Materials, and is featured on the cover.

“It’s easy to make carbon nanotubes …

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Link Assortment 10/29/10

Raising giant insects of unravel ancient oxygen The electronics for smart implants SENS Foundation post on how resveratrol does not extend lifespan Brian Wang reports on Zyvex progress in nanotechnology How 3-D printing is transforming the toy industry “Skin printer” could help heal battlefield wounds Self-assembly revolutionizes metamaterial manufacture Transgenic worms make tough fibers Magnetic test reveals hyperactive brain network responsible for involuntary flashbacks Controlling individual cortical nerve cells by human thought Learning the truth not effective in battling rumors about NYC mosque, study finds Fingers detect typos even when conscious brain doesn’t ‘Wireless’ humans could form backbone of new mobile networks Optical technique reveals unnexpected complexity in mammalian olfactory coding Carbon nanotube thermopower achieving high specific power over seven times higher than lithium batteries George Dvorsky: Why life extensionists need to be concerned about neurological diseases

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David Pearce: Top Five Reasons Transhumanism Can Eliminate Suffering

A new article by David Pearce is up at H+ magazine. As a transhumanist staunchly in favor of the Hedonistic Imperative, I welcome this. Here are the reasons:

1) We Shall Soon Be Able To Choose Our Own Level Of Pain-Sensitivity 2) We Can Soon Choose How Rewarding We Want Our Daily Life To Be 3) Steak Lovers and Vegans Alike Can Soon Eat Cruelty-Free Diets 4) Carnivorous Nonhuman Predators Can Be Phased Out Too 5) We May Be On The Eve Of An “Intelligence Explosion”

1-2 are “old” transhumanist ideas, 3 is in vitro meat (new-ish), 4 is David’s recent idea, and 5 is an idea more than a century old, but only given real attention since the founding of MIRI in 2000.

What good is transhumanism if it can’t eliminate suffering?

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Skype Co-Founder: “We Need to Ensure That a Self-Correcting System Will Stay True to its Initial Purpose”

A Singularity Institute donor and Singularity Summit sponsor, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn understands the risk of advanced artificial intelligence. Estonian Public Broadcasting recently covered his remarks on the topic:

Jaan Tallinn, one of the founders of Skype, believes humans may succeed in creating artificial intelligence by midcentury.

Tallinn told uudised.err.ee that in order to create artificial intelligence, two important problems need to be solved. “First, we need to ensure that a self-correcting system will stay true to its initial purpose. Secondly, we need to solve a more difficult problem — to determine what we actually want. What are those initial goals for a computer that is given super intelligence?” Tallinn asked.

He added that there could be negative outcomes if artificial intelligence is more powerful than humans but cannot interpret human values. “If a computer needs to get carbon atoms, and it doesn’t care about humans, then it would think the easiest place to get them is from humans. It would be more difficult to acquire them from the air,” said Tallinn.

It is hard to …

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Medical Fatalism

One study described at Time.com claims that many obese people are happy with the way they are. Another study, at PhysOrg, reports that Latinas tend to be fatalistic about cancer:

To assess whether they were fatalistic, women were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed with statements such as “cancer is like a death sentence,” “cancer is God’s punishment,” “illness is a matter of chance,” “there is little that I can do to prevent cancer,” “it does not do any good to try to change the future because the future is in the hands of God.”

The dynamics operating in both cases may be slightly different, but the fatalism is the same. People are often happy with things the way they are because worrying or actually doing something seem like too much trouble, or even theologically presumptuous. Thus, it’s no surprise that many people aren’t interested in cryonics. If you could prove that it worked, that would certainly change people’s attitudes, but until then, we should predict low adoption rates for cryonics. Medical “fatalism” …

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Gregory Benford on Cryonics: Why Did Ray Bradbury Decide to Skip It?

Writing in Lightspeed Magazine: “Considering Cryonics”. Benford makes a note of the odd phenomenon whereby sci-fi greats played around with the concept of cryonics in their stories but never actually signed up for it:

Ray Bradbury once told me he was interested in any chance of seeing the future, but when he thought over cryonics, he realized that he would be torn away from everything he loved. What would the future be worth, he asked, without his wife, his children, his friends? No, he told me, wouldn’t take the option at any price.

This is an example of the “neighborhood” argument, which says that mature people are so entwined with their surroundings, people and habits of mind, that to yank them out is a trauma worse than death. One is fond of one’s own era, certainly. But it seems to me that ordinary immigrants from every era have faced similar challenges and managed to adjust and make freer, better lives in their new homes. Just ask your grandparents.

I’ve met quite a few people against cryonics for this …

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John D. Furber’s Comprehensive Aging Graph

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting John Furber, an anti-aging scientist known as the founder of Legendary Pharmaceuticals. The company’s homepage has an excellent introduction to the biology of aging and senescence, and a giant chart with over a hundred nodes and links describing the process of aging. (I got to see a large poster version, which really had an impressive visual effect.) Furber’s analysis of the mechanisms of aging are interesting because it strongly parallels Aubrey de Grey’s but with a slightly different emphasis and other things to say. Furber has an article out in the hot-off-the-press Springer compilation The Future of Aging “Repairing Extracellular Aging and Glycation”. He also has a nutrition page on his website.

Furber has been building on his graph for ten years, so it is very well researched.

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Humanity+ @ Caltech to be Held at Beckman Institute in Los Angeles, December 4-5

Here’s the website. Humanity+ @ CalTech is hosted by the California Institute of Technology and ab|inventio, the invention factory behind QLess, Whozat, SocialDiligence and MyNew.TV.

The speakers list is a mix of the usual suspects and some new names. The usual suspects include Randal Koene, Suzanne Gildert, Michael Vassar, Max More, Nastasha Vita-More, Bryan Bishop, Patri Friedman, Ben Goertzel, and Gregory Benford. If you were following my tweets from this weekend you’ll recall that Benford announced StemCell100(tm) at the Life Extension Conference in Burlingame, which is a product of LifeCode, a spinoff company of Genescient.

The conference is partially being organized by my friend Tom McCabe, who was recently voted on to the Board of Directors of Humanity+. Please let Tom know (his email is at his website) if you want to help sponsor the event!

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Society for Risk Analysis Annual Meeting Presentation

This is just a reminder that I will be presenting at the Society for Risk Analysis annual meeting in Salt Lake City on December 5-8. The meeting is open to anyone interested in risk analysis. Registration is $500. Robin Hanson and Seth Baum will be there as well. My presentation will be part of the “Assessment, Communication and Perception of Nanotechnology” track. The full session list is here. Seth will be chairing the “Methodologies for Global Catastrophic Risk Assessment” track, where Robin will be giving his talk.

Here’s my abstract:

T3-F.4 14:30 Public Scholarship For Global Catastrophic Risks. Anissimov M*; Singularity Institute

Abstract: Global catastrophic risks (GCRs) are risks that threaten civilization on a global scale, including nuclear war, ecological collapse, pandemics, and poorly understood risks from emerging technologies such as nanotechnology and artificial intelligence. Public perception of GCRs is important because these risks and responses to them are often driven by public activities or by the public policies of democracies. However, much of the public perception is based on science …

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My Four-Layered Model of Human Nature

Robin Hanson is really on fire now with his analysis of farmer vs. forager psychology. Whether consciously or not, he’s extending the farmer model given by Cochran and Harpending in The 10,000 Year Explosion. Cochran and Harpending’s model is interesting in the way it points out the disappointing truth about humanity’s self-domestication. To put it in crude terms, we’ve naturally selected ourselves into a bunch of conformist townie wussies.

My default model of Homo sapiens is four-layered — our primate-mammalian background from 80 mya, the Homo sapiens EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptiveness) pan-species bedrock, post-African diaspora/farming/Neolithic Revolution selection pressures, and the modern world. Rich data is available to update the model at all four levels, but in my opinion #3, the farming revolution, is most neglected. I hazard to guess it’s the most neglected because the particulars of it make distinctions between different groups of existing humans.

Another neglected area, as far as my reading goes, is the mystical/mythical side of the time period …

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Gem of an Idea: A Flexible Diamond-Studded Electrode Implanted for Life

From Eurekalert:

Diamonds adorning tiaras to anklets are treasures but these gemstones inside the body may prove priceless.

Two Case Western Reserve University researchers are building implants made of diamond and flexible polymer that are designed to identify chemical and electrical changes in the brain of patients suffering from neural disease, or to stimulate nerves and restore movement in the paralyzed.

The work of Heidi Martin, a professor of chemical engineering, and Christian Zorman, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, is years from human trials but their early success has drawn interest worldwide.

My general stance on enhancement and implants is “go diamond or go home”, and its corollary, “go fullerene or go home”.

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ASIM Experts Series: Brain-Machine Interfacing: Current Work and Future Directions, by Max Hodak, October 17, 2010

“ASIM” stands for Advancing Substrate Independent Minds, the field previously known as mind uploading, though ASIM can be construed as broader. ASIM is the focus of Carboncopies, a new non-profit founded by Suzanne Gildert (now at D-Wave) and Randal Koene (Halcyon Molecular). Randal and I work at the same company so I get to see him in the lunch room now.

The presentation, to be held in Teleplace this upcoming Sunday (email Giulio Prisco for directions on how to log in) has the following abstract:

Brain-machine interfacing: current work and future directions Max Hodak – http://younoodle.com/people/max_hodak

Abstract: Fluid, two-way brain-machine interfacing represents one of the greatest challenges of modern bioengineering. It offers the potential to restore movement and speech to the locked-in, and ultimately allow us as humans to expand far beyond the biological limits we’re encased in now. But, there’s a long road ahead. Today, noninvasive BMIs are largely useless as practical devices and invasive BMIs are critically limited, though progress is being made everyday. Microwire array …

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